Philippines’ Beaches: What’s Not to Love?

The Philippines, being an archipelago, is dotted with innumerable pristine, sparkling beaches. Some white, others black, a few brown, and surprisingly pink too! We have beaches that are as fine as talcum powder to gritty, sandy ones, while others are pebble lined. Majority of these tropical paradise boasts off crystal clear water that comes in azure to turquoise colors. Regardless of the color and texture of beaches’ sand and water, Philippines’ seashores will make one’s “beach escapade” memorable and fun!

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Besides the obvious aesthetics of our beaches, here are other reasons why bumming around the beaches of the Philippines is a must doPhilippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches are home to various water sports and activities. From surfing, to snorkeling to SCUBA diving, kitesurfing, kayaking, island-hopping and many more. Plus, the marine life is teeming with wonders.  One will never run out of things to do. These activities can keep you fit and make your vacation more fun-filled.

Philippines’ beaches showcase some of the most jaw-dropping sunrise and sunset views. Everything turns into a picturesque, surreal nature art once the sun starts to rise. It is even more dramatic during sundown. Sunset by the beach is one thing I look forward the most.

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Philippines’ beaches are generally cheap. While some of our beaches are becoming more and more commercialized, I want to believe that majority of our beaches are still inexpensive, and some even for free. One could spend some time along the beach without worrying about spending much – paying for entrance fees or buying pricey food because again, the cost isn’t really high.

Philippines’ beaches are home to good and hospitable Filipinos. I want to think that Filipino hospitality is evident in almost all parts of the country – whether at the mountain villages, to seaside towns, and various rural areas. Most Filipinos are willing to lend a helping hand in whatever ways they could. Some families would invite you their homes, some would even cook the freshest sea catch of the day for their visitors to have a sumptuous meal.

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They say “life is a beach”. Whether you have a beach bod, dad bod or whatever kind of body figure you have, the beach is one welcoming place for you to experience life, to live life.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

The Story of a SURFvivor

Buzzy Trent (a pioneer of big wave surfing) once said, “Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear…

I wrote this blog in my Multiply account about 8 years ago, then published it in my TravBuddy account 5 years back, and now I am finally reposting (with some updates) it here in my WordPress. This entry is about my 1st surfing experience, and how I survived it.  DSC_0359

During my childhood years, I used to have this uncanny fear of water (any bodies of water for that matter). But despite the alarm, I also had these series of dreams where I’d go SCUBA diving, snorkeling and surfing. I didn’t even know how to swim, and is really afraid of the thought of drowning but there goes that yearning to be adventurous on and under water. Weird and ironic isn’t it?

Fast-forward: Some peculiar years later, I found myself marveling at the sport’s illusory unfussiness as I paddle out to the sea and grasping at the sides of a surfboard, the sea rolling underneath my tummy like a hyperacidic stomach.

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I had my first taste of riding a surf board way back 2009. La Union, a province in close proximity to my place, is home to one of the Philippines’ surf spot. So one weekend, a few of my friends and I planned on a weekend getaway before the start of another grueling semester (we study and work in a university). The more pressing questions that time were – “What to do? and Where to go?” And the thought of trying to do some surfing was one of the immediate things that came to my mind. (Yes it was yet another out-of-the blue idea of Lester)… Since we can’t afford to travel far distance just to surf because of several reasons (ie time, physical fatigue it may bring about and finances), we opted for the nearest and possibly the cheapest – SAN JUAN, LA UNION! (Claimed to be the surfing capital of the north).

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During the one hour ride to SJ, I wondered how I’d fair with my 1st surfing experience. There’s no arguing that the water activity seems fun. BUT, I was quite anxious because I personally have issues on standing (moreso balancing) atop a moving object. (You now when you are born with “talipes equinovarus” or clubfoot, things like this can come as a challenge). I also had doubts about my learning curve and the ability of my lanky body to carry me against the current.

We arrived at the Se-bay Surf Central in San Juan, La Union at about 8:30 in the morning. I wasn’t sure still if I wanted to try it out or just watch my companions fall off from their boards. (Cetrin, the only lady in our group was certain she won’t be surfing. She nonchalantly said she’ll just watch us fall off from our boards. (You know friends can be really this supportive. Haha). A few more minutes of contemplating, we finally worked up the nerve to sign up for a one-hour surf lesson (Php400/hour for a surf board and an instructor). After all, this is what prompted us to get out of Baguio that weekend.

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Before going into the water, our surf instructors taught us the basics like the right way to lie on the board, how to and when to paddle out, stand up, and the like. Well, theoretically speaking, I was able to learn how to surf in ten minutes or less, but knowing is half the battle. And the battle involved far greater difficulties than just learning to conquer the waves. We were asked if we were ready and we all said “yes” dishonestly. The thought of drowning of crashing into the waves and drowning started to cloud my thought. But recalling what my instructor told me, that my leash would save me in case that happens, my spirit was momentarily uplifted.

The surf instructors then led us to the sea (The West Philippine Sea and its seemingly glorious waves) and told us to get on the board so we could start fighting the current and find a nice spot to catch a wave. I did so, trying to keep my eyes focused on the horizon ahead so I wouldn’t get giddy. What I saw was enough to make me want to start paddling toward the opposite direction: wave after wave of water that looked big enough to carry me off to the sea. To experienced (and professional) surfers, I’m sure the waves that day were absolutely nothing (as in nothing!!!), but I’ve never had to swim against waves like that in my life. True, I was relatively safe because my surfboard kept me afloat (and my leg is tied with a leash), but that didn’t keep me from being gradually more frightened with every wave that hit me. I was having difficulty catching my breath, and I was so anxious I’d fall off my board and get yanked out by the undertow. (By now you realize, my readers, how cowardice have been eating me up then).

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We were getting too far from the shore for my relief, so I asked my instructor if it was really that necessary to keep swimming out (I do not know how to swim FYI – okay I already mentioned that earlier). My heart sank when he said yes, but he speedily added that the nearer we are to the shore, the more unsafe it is because the waves come about too closely to each other. After what seemed like infinity, we finally stopped battling the waves and stayed at spot where “surfable” waves came less frequently.

I soon discovered that my instincts got in the way of learning to surf. And by “instincts” I mean I was just purely too afraid to let go of my surfboard. The instructor would give the surfboard a thrust when a wave came by, then tells me when to stand up. I was able to stand up, but only for a fleeting second. It was then that he must have realized that I was one of his worst (if not the worst) student ever. It certainly took a lot of effort going back to the same spot after the waves carried me closer to the shore. Meaning — I had to go paddle against the current again. I started to feel weary, especially my arms – I was too tired to paddle back properly, and I was too scared to do anything but hold on for my dear life.

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surfing SJLU copy

I did make a number of attempts to plunk up and surf, but I’d either be daydreaming and hear the instructor shout “TAYO!” (STAND) too late, or I’d be arguing with myself as to whether or not I should stand up. After half an hour I finally got sick of being the only one who haven’t quite learned how to surf. (My friends Monte and Sir Mak during those times were already enjoying themselves on top of their surfboards). The next time a wave comes, I told myself, I will stop doubting myself, stop asking questions, and just stand the fuck up like I’m supposed to.

And I did it! I eventually did it! I finally got up and rode a wave! Sure, I must have looked like a total idiot, especially since my total ride was interposed by a very strident “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAA!” But as soon as I found the nerve to get up, it occurred to me that surfing itself can actually be pretty easy. The wave just picks you up and takes you for a ride, and you don’t have to do anything but stand there and try not to fall. The whole thing must have lasted maybe five seconds or so, and it was right when I thought, “Oh shit, I’m falling… I’m falling…!” that I lost my balance and landed rather awkwardly into the water.

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I went back to try out again, just to make sure that I could already balance and stay on top of the board and prove Cetrin (who has been bugging me as to why I can’t stand) that my first successful balance and ride weren’t luck at all! And YES! I did it again. That is when I realized that it was just a matter of determination and concentration. “I was able to do so because I believed in myself and I wanted to make it happen”.

I was in the middle of experiencing the adrenaline rush of surfing when my instructor told me it was time. I wanted to extend my time but we had to leave now… But anyhow, I definitely would want to come back to La Union and do surfing again and be less wimpy about riding a wave.

Note: As of this writing, I have been going back to San Juan for several times now and my surfing has improved. Also, I am proud to say that I have surfed in some of the most notable surfing spots in the country like Baler in Aurora, Bagasbas in Camarines Norte, Guiuan in Eastern Samar, Cloud 9 in the world-renowned Siargao Island, and the most recent one is in Puraran, Catanduanes.

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With these experiences, I am beyond proud to say that I am a SURFvivor! Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

Siargao (Surigao del Norte, PH)

The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun. – Phil Edwards

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Siargao, a tear-drop shaped island in Mindanao, Philippines, is one of the internationally renowned surfing spots in the country. The coastline of which is marked by a succession of reefs, small points and white, sandy to powdery beaches.

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Also, Siargao Island contains the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao.

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One of the well-known surfing waves in Siargao with a reputation for its thick, hollow-iike tubes is “Cloud 9”. This right-breaking reef wave is the site of the annual Siargao Cup, a domestic and international surfing competition sponsored by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

May Bisyo Ako: Isang Pag-Amin

May Bisyo Ako…

“ May bisyo ako, ngayon ko lang napagtanto.

May bisyo ako, pano ba nagumpisa eto?

May bisyo ako, nakaka-adik eto.

May bisyo ako, may mga kontra dito.

May bisyo ako, ewan ko lang kung gusto nyo.

May bisyo ako – pero hindi alak, yosi o bato.

May bisyo ako, bisyong mahal ko.

May bisyo ako, at eto ang nilalaman ng blog ko.”

Dicasalarin Cove, baler, Aurora.
Dicasalarin Cove, baler, Aurora.

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/dicasalarin-cove-aurora-ph/

Ang mundo ay isang libro, at ang mga taong hindi marunong maglakbay – isang pahina lang ang kanilang nabasa…” – iyan ang nakaukit na sipi sa utak ko.

Alas-kwatro ng hapon. SM Megamall.

“Isa akong galang guro.” Iyan ang bigla kong nasambit sa isang kaibigang matagal ko ng hindi nakikita, nito lamang nakaraang Martes ng nasa Maynila ako. Kakagaling ko lang mula sa byahe ko sa Coron, Palawan. Bago ako umuwi ng Baguio, naisipan ko munang mag-Megamall – para kumaen at tumingin ng pwedeng mabili. Nasa Goldilocks ako nun, malapit ko ng maubos ang binili kong Lumpiang Hubad ng may biglang nagsalita:

“Wow, long time no see… Kumusta ka na?”

Iginala ko ang paningin ko para hanapin kung saan galing yung boses na sumambit ng mga katagang iyon. Napatitig lang ako sa isang lalaking magara ang suot at mejo may kasosyalan ang dating. Actually, I did not recognize him, he looks familiar pero parang nagrerewind pa ang utak ko kung saang bang bahagi ng buhay ko nakilala itong taong kasalukuyang papalapit sa akin. Inabot niya ang kanan nyang kamay para makipaghand-shake sabay sambit ng pangalan ko at tila tuwang tuwa na nakita ako…

Cagbatan Island, Coron, Palawan.
Cagbatan Island, Coron, Palawan.

“Lester… Mark Lester Romulo…”

Bago pa niya mabuo ang medyo kahabaan kong pangalan, bigla ko ng naalala kung sino ang kaharap at kakamayan ko… Isa siya sa mga kaklase ko nung nasa high-school at ngayon, isa ng bigtime na empleyado (hindi nya dinisclose ang position nya pero isa daw sya sa mga Upper ups) sa isang malaking company sa Manila.

So ayun, since I was about to finish what I was eating at paalis na rin sana ako, he asked kung pwede kaming magkuwentuhan… (Akalain nyong may taong interesadong alamin kung ano na ang mga pagbabago sa buhay ko??) Since gabi pa yung kinuha kong byahe pabalik ng Baguio at ilang oras pa ang hihintayin ko bago mag-out mula sa trabaho yung kapatid ko, eh napagpasyahan kong paunlakan ang kanyang imbitasyon na magkwentuhan kami at magkape (kahit na hindi naman talaga ako nagkakape).

Nagsasa Cove, San Antonio, Zambales
Nagsasa Cove, San Antonio, Zambales 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/nagsasa-cove/

Bago kami nagpunta sa isang coffeeshop, dumaan muna kami sa Parking Area para ihatid yung mga pinamili nya dahil hinihintay daw ito ng kanyang pinsan. Tinanong pa niya ako kung saan ko daw gustong magkape – syempre pa, since hindi naman talaga ako mahilig sa kape (nasabi ko na ata eto sa itaas na paragraph), sinabi ko na lang na kahit saan. As I have expected, sa isang kilalang coffeeshop na kinalolokohan ng maraming Pinoy kami nagtuloy… Alam nyo na iyun, di ko na babanggitin dito dahil hindi ko nais ipromote yung kapehan na’yun dahil masyadong mahal…

Aslom Island, Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro.
Aslom Island, Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro. 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/beauty-of-bulalacao-oriental-mindoro-ph/

Nagumpisa ang kwentuhan sa tanungan kung saan na si ganito – si ganyan, pinagkwentuhan ang ilan sa mga kaklase namin noon. Andami nyang kwento, noon ko lang narealize na madaldal din pala siya. Hindi kasi sya ganun nung high-school kami. Isa kasi siya sa mga taong napapanis ang laway sa classroom dahil di mo to kakakitaan na dumadaldal. Nagumpisa na rin syang magkwento tungkol sa sarili nya – mula nung college sya hanggang sa kanyang mga experiences sa pakikipagsapalaran sa trabaho at ang mabilis na pag-unlad sa kanyang buhay. From being a plain company worker to a big boss in a large firm in Manila; from someone who rents a cheap apartment into becoming an elite condo-dweller; ipinagmalaki din nya na X00,000.00 ang sweldo nya kada-buwan, at syempre pa, ang bagong bago nyang tsekot na kanina lang ay nakita kong nakaparke. (Medyo nayabangan ako sa kanya nung una pero napagtanto ko na okay lang kasi talaga namang may maipagyayabang sya, kahit na unti-unti na akong nanliliit at na-iinggit sa mga oras na iyon).  Gusto ko din kasi iyong mga na-achieve nya. Magandang tirahan, malaking sweldo, magarang kotse, magarang buhay. Pero wala pa ako ng mga iyon.

Boracay island, Malay, Aklan.
Boracay island, Malay, Aklan. 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/boracay-aklan-philippines/

Akala ko hindi na siya matatapos sa kanyang talumpati tungkol sa sarili niya ng bigla siyang magtanong. “Ikaw naman Lester, kuwento ka naman… Anong bago bukod sa medyo pagkadagdag mo ng konting laman?” Pangiti nitong sabi.

Halos pagpawisan ako sa kinauupuan ko. Hindi dahil sa mainit yung kapeng iniinom ko, kundi dahil sa nakakatakot nyang tanong. Isang lagok ko pa sa mapait na kape tsaka taas-noo kong sinabi na “ako ay isang galang guro” —  isang accidental educator (kung tawagin ng ilang propesyonal) sa isang unibersidad sa Baguio na nahuhumaling sa paglalakbay.

Skycyce Adventure, Eden Nature Park, Toril, Davao City.
Skycyce Adventure, Eden Nature Park, Toril, Davao City. 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/skycycling-101-davao-city-ph/

Mukha syang puzzled at parang napapailing sa narinig nya mula sa akin. Naisip nya siguro na ang weird ko naman. Iyon kasi yung mababasa mo sa noo nya. Kaya ayun, ako naman ang nag-umpisang magkwento.

Isa ako sa mga Pilipinong nagtatrabaho sa isa sa mga private academic institutions na lumalagare ng ikabubuhay 6 days in a week at sinuswelduhan ng sakto lamang para sa pansariling gastos. No car, no condo unit o apartment man lang. May mga savings din naman ako, but then, most of the time, napupunta ito sa one and only na bisyo ko – ang gumala o maglakbay sa mas magandang salita. Nakahiligan kong pumunta kung saan saan. Ibinahagi ko sa kanya ang pagbisita ko sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Pilipinas. Buong galak kong kinwento ang mga bundok na naakyat ko at yung mga di malilimutang moments sa mga lugar na ito. Dahil sa pambihirang talent ko sa paggagala, nararating ko ang mga nakakamanghang lugar na dati rati eh sa mga libro ko lang nakikita o kaya sa mga Travelogue magazines ko langnasisilayan.

Calaguas Island, Vinzons, Camarines Norte
Calaguas Island, Vinzons, Camarines Norte

Mas naging madaldal din ako sa pagkwento ko, naibahagi ko sa kanya kung paano ako nagumpisang mawili sa ganitong klaseng bisyo at kung ano iyong mga dahilan kung bakit ninanais kong pagkagastusan ang ganitong bagay. Sinabi ko sa kanya na masaya sa pakiramdam kung may bagong kakilala, o angmakakita ng magandang tanawin, ang malaman ang kultura ng iba at syempre pa – yung exhilarating feeling na hindi mo alam kung ano ang susunod na mangyayari… Wika ko nga, travelling has been a great teacher… Andami kong natutunan sa paglalakbay ko… Para bang nagbabasa ka ng isang libro na punong puno ng kwento…

Maniwaya Island, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque
Maniwaya Island, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/marinduque-the-heart-of-the-philippines/

At times, napapansin ko na napapakagat na lang siya ng labi at napapakunot ng noo. Pakiwari ko nga O.A na ako sa paningin nya. I was not so certain if naintindihan ba nya o naabsorb pa ba nya mga sinasabi ko tungkol sa sarili ko; o baka napipilitan na lang siyang makinig para lang hindi ako mapahiya.

Paglaon, nabanggit din nya na gusto nya rin daw magtravel kung saan-saan. Gusto niya daw makita ang mga vinta ng Zamboanga o kaya eh makatungtung ng ruruk ng isang bundok gaya ng mga nakwento ko na sa kanya. Muli nyang ipinagmalaki na marami siyang pwedeng gastusin na pera pero dahil nga sa mataas nyang posisyon sa company kung saan sya nagtatrabaho, eh wala daw siyang oras para sa sarili nya at sa ganitong klaseng bisyo.

Racuh A Payaman, Mahatao, Batanes
Racuh A Payaman, Mahatao, Batanes 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/breathtaking-batanes-sabtang-island-philippines/

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/breathtaking-batanes-basco-philippines/

Biglang nawala lahat ng panliliit at pagkainggit na naramdaman ko. Naisip ko na lang sa sarili ko – marami nga siyang pera, hindi naman niya nakukuhang maenjoy yung sinasabi nyang desire to travel kung saan saan.

Sabi pa nya – noon daw, nung naguumpisa pa lang siyang magtrabaho, naisip na nyang maglakbay. Eh ang kaso, wala daw siyang pera. Pero ngayon namang marami na siyang pera, wala naman daw siyang oras.  Pagkarinig ko pa lang sa mga sinabi nya, sobrang nalungkot ako para sa kanya.

Mount Apo, Davao - North Cotabato Border
Mount Apo, Davao – North Cotabato Border 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/mount-apo-king-of-philippine-peaks/

Nagflashback tuloy sa utak ko yung nabasa kong article sa isang magazine about a man who have been dreaming to travel before he dies. Actually, nasa bucket list ng taong ito na makita ang pag-labas ng araw sa Mount Pulag at ang paglubog ng araw sa mala-paraisong dagat ng Palawan. This man was so pre-occupied with his work, and most of the time, ended up doing more work kaya hindi niya magawa-gawa yung matagal nya ng nais gawin – ang maglakbay. He would usually reason out that “money is more important than anything else”.  Hindi nya narealize na hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon eh aayon sa kanya ang panahon. Kaya ayun, namatay siya na di man lang nakakamit yung matagal nya ng ninanais.

Ika nga ng isa sa mga nakasama ko sa climb — “I think if you love doing something, you’ll find the time and place for it…”

My 1st Mount Pulag climb, and the main reason why my wanderlust spirit was ignited.
My 1st Mount Pulag climb, and the main reason why my wanderlust spirit was ignited.

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/mount-pulag/

Most of the time, there are a lot of things that we like postponing because we don’t have much time for these things. And it is sad to note na madalas, itong mga bagay na lagi nating ipinagpapaliban ay iyong mga bagay na mahalaga sa atin. Things that we instantly trade for bigger opportunities that involves more money. Most of the time nga, pera ang nagiging basis natin to gauge success. More money, the more successful a person is.

But I beg to disagree… hindi kasi ganun ang pananaw ko sa buhay.  Hindi ako naniniwala na pera ang batayan ng tagumpay. If that’s the case, then, masaya sana lahat ng mga mayayamang tao dahil sila yung may maraming pera. Pero hindi eh. They may have all the riches in this world, but they don’t have the time to enjoy it –they don’t know how to enjoy their lives.

Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao
Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/batad-rice-terraces/

Bago ko tapusin itong medyo napahabang blog na ito, bakit di nyo pagisipan tong mga iiwan kong tanong?

Bakit ka ba nag-iipon ng pera? Para saan ba ang mga iniipon mong pera sa bangko?

Well I am not saying that saving our money is bad. Pero para saan ba at nag-iipon tayo? Future. Oo naman. Para sa future. Pero sana, wag din nating kalimutan yung present – yung mga gusto mong gawin ngayon na tingin mo eh makakapagpasaya sayo. Baka naman, uugod-ugod ka na eh yung pangarap mong magbunjee jumping eh nabaon na sa limot dahil nga hindi mo na kaya kahit na marami ka pang pera…

With friends at Salagdoong Beach, Maria, Siquijor
With friends at Salagdoong Beach, Maria, Siquijor 

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/salagdoong-beach-siquijor-philippines/

Sa mahigit 2 oras na nakaupo ako sa bangkang patungong Banana Island, napagtanto ko na every person isn’t given the chance to do the things I am capable of doing. So, kung may pwede kang gawin na sa tingin mo eh makakapagpasaya sayo, aba! Don’t wait too long.. Do what makes you happy. Travel. Explore the World. Tandaan – Lahat ng tao, gustong maging masaya, eh ano pa ba ang silbi ng buhay kung hindi mo rin lang ito ma-achieve.

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https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/bud-bongao/

And as I always, always say — Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust’… take it easy ebri’juan’…

Lester out —

Originally written on February 11, 2009 (22:35). Baguio City.